Satan attacks Christian families. It's true. Maybe you were never very aware of it until you became a parent yourself. The thought is sobering. The automatic question is: How? What's his strategy? Getting it wrong means we could fall prey to his tactics without even knowing it. Sometimes we think we are arming ourselves for battle when we're actually playing right into his hand. Can you relate to any of the following three examples?
"When we moved into our house with our toddler the people next door told us the previous tenants were cultists. They said we should pray over our house because some of the evil might have seeped into the walls and could affect our babies."
"When I was growing up in the 80's Christians were banning the Smurfs because they were satanic. Care Bears and My Little Ponies were right on their heels in the burn pile."
"Recently a friend with a bad back was doing some stretches. Another Christian confronted her and said those specific stretches were evil because they were often used in yoga."
Maybe you've been involved in similar situations. These are certainly examples of spiritual warfare - but not in the way you might think. Satan's tactics here weren't stuffed animals or exercise. He was using two far more powerful weapons:
Fear can be disguised as spirituality. It seems more spiritual to "spot a devil behind every bush." Let's face it - when you stop to think about it there's nothing in this world that Satan has not tried to taint with sin. But let's not give him more credit than God. Who invented stretching long before yoga came around? Who created wood before it was ever carved into an idol? God preceded paganism and He will be around long after it's gone.
In 1 Corinthians 8:7-12 Paul called people who were hyper-sensitive to paganism weaker. Some people are more sensitive to those things. We don't judge them, but we also don't allow their fears to dictate our decisions. Romans 14:16 says, "Do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil." We encourage them and ourselves to subject our feelings to God's Word.
What about fearing things that affect our bodies like food and vaccines? Those things don't seem like spiritual issues. But do you ever let fear control your grocery list? Do you feel guilty when you're in a hurry and you give your kids fast food? Are you on a vaccine rampage, on one side or the other? When it creates fear it becomes a spiritual issue.
Dr. Dan Sonke, agricultural scientist for a well-known American food company, said, "Whether it is low fat, zone diet, gluten free, sugar free, (insert your favorite diet trend here), American families are teaching children that food is something to be afraid of, or conversely that food can bring salvation." Parents, that's not discernment. That's fear.
Ironically, when we are fearful we have already taken a hit from the very evil we are trying to protect ourselves from. We've given in to Satan's biggest arrow of all: a lack of faith in God. In fearing Satan we've attributed more power to him than he actually has. That's exactly what he wants.
Fear stunts true discernment. It blinds us to the facts and weakens our defenses. We can't excuse our fear as being more knowledgeable about what's going on. God never gives allowances for that. All fear is faithless (Romans 14:23).
Satan loves it when we obsess over his tactics. He wants to keep our minds preoccupied with what he's up to so there's no room for Christ. When you have a few minutes of down time do you soak up God's word or do you delve straight into the new articles on how GMO's are destroying our health? Maybe you're anxious to follow up on the latest study about satanic kids' toys. You might think you are arming yourself for the spiritual battle, but maybe you are just falling into Satan's distraction trap.
There simply isn't enough time in the day to study up on all the evil in the world and spend time in God's word. Romans 16:19 tells us to choose: "Be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil." Tim Challies explains this verse well: "It can be dangerous to assume that we need to have a deep understanding of error in order to hold fast to what is true." Don't seek to be an expert in evil. It simply distracts from growing in the truth.
Ultimately, Satan wants to keep us so distracted with all of the sin "out there" that we let our guard down on the true battlefront:
Our own hearts.
Matthew 15:19 - "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders."
We don't like to look that close to home to find evil. But it's true. A grumbling heart is more satanic than a Care Bear. A contentious wife is more pagan than a physical exercise pose. It's often easier to blame demons than to own up to our own sinfulness.
But we're still left with these important questions:
Is there evil in an actual yoga pose? Are there foods that are bad for us spiritually? Are there pieces of jewelry (such as balance bracelets and occult symbols) that carry dark forces within them?
As parents we need to know.
In Paul's' day people were asking the same questions. Their questions revolved around food sacrificed to idols. Was the food tainted? Did the food itself contain evil? Paul's answer:
Romans 14:14a - "I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself."
In fact, calling the food unclean was acknowledging that the idol had legitimate spiritual powers.
1 Corinthians 8:4,8 - "We know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat."
Food is just food. "Yes, but yoga is not just stretching!" True, yoga centers around pagan practices that pair exercise with worship. But the actual stretches themselves can be likened to the food sacrificed to idols. Stretching is spiritually neutral.
"But what about spiritual experiences I've had?" We must subject our experiences to God's Word, not the other way around. Theology built on experiences rather than the Bible leaves us wide open for deception.
So where do we draw the line? Can Christians still enjoy a rainbow even though it is used as a symbol for homosexuality? Can our kids dance around the living room even though dancing is used in pagan worship services? Should we enroll our kids in Martial Arts?
Biblically there are three places to draw the line:
1. Avoiding the appearance of evil. If you know it is not evil but you think it could hurt your testimony, God's says to avoid it. (1 Thessalonians 5:22)
2. Causing someone to stumble. Maybe a good friend got saved out a New Age background and doing yoga-style stretches around her reminds her of a painful past. God says give it up out of love for her (Romans 14:15). That doesn't mean we avoid things that just bug other Christians. God says don't let their convictions become your convictions (Romans 14:22). But we can look for ways to lovingly protect their consciences.
3. Draw the line at the heart. If you give in to wearing a charm bracelet because you are genuinely drawn to the spiritual power you feel from it, get rid of it. If your kids are being taught a false religion in their karate class, get them out of there.
Don't draw the line at fear or superstition. There will always be new fads of evil, but we can't be "tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14)." The Bible tells us exactly what we need to know for spiritual warfare. Satan's schemes are no mystery to us and our weapons are just as straightforward (Ephesians 6).
Do you find yourself anxious about the evil in this world and how it can affect your family? Take courage and know:
- Christ has already overcome the world (John 16:33).
- He disarmed Satan when he rose from the dead (Col. 2:15).
- Christ's presence in your heart is more powerful than Satan's influence over the world (1 John 4:4).
If we throw out everything Satan has tainted with sin there would be nothing left for us to enjoy. Confidence is a greater testimony to our children than fear. If we can't walk through this world with confidence, we are not walking through it with Christ.
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